Where does the term “thank ye ma’am” come from and What does thank ye ma’am mean?

This, gratefully appreciated in rural American courtship in grandfather’s day, is now rapidly disappearing, replaced by humdrum metal or concrete culverts on hilly roads everywhere.

On early roads in such country, an earthen diagonal ridge served to carry rain water or melting snow from high side to low side, thus preventing excessive wash.

But, passing over it in carriage or wagon, the passenger on the side first hitting this ridge would sway involuntarily toward the other.

The rural swain, needless to say, chose roads accordingly.

With the head of the fair one thus within kissing distance, the grateful murmur, “Thank ye, ma’am,” was of course passed along to the humble cause.